I awoke with just two more things that I wanted to see in Mexico City before I headed to Oaxaca: the murals at the National Palace and the National History Museum in Chapultepec park. Unfortunately neither building opened until 9am. After Teotihuacan yesterday I did not want to do a lot of walking and certainly as few stairs as possible so I cooled my heels at the hostel.
The National Palace was only a couple of blocks from my hostel so I started there. That would give the subway time to clear out some from the rush hour traffic. There did not seem to be much instruction in how to get into the Palace but nor was it that difficult. Just line up and go through the metal detectors. The main tourist draw are large murals by Diego Rivera and other muralists that depict Mexico history in vivid splendor. There is no entrance charge, the stop only took about 15 minutes and was well worth the time.
I then hopped on the Metro, which I was very comfortable with by this point, and took it over to Chapultepec park and the National History Museum. The Museum costs 51 pesos with another 35 pesos optionally to get a permit to use your video camera. The museum is huge. It has two floors, start at the right as you walk in and you will trace the history of the Mexican peoples on the first floor. There are so many different cultures and regions that I won’t claim to be all caught up on Mexican pre-columbian history. There is a lot of pottery and other crafts that don’t capture my interest for long but also many large exhibits like giant Olmec stone heads and Mayan calendars.
After spending the morning in the downstairs exhibit I ate a pancakes lunch at the museum cafe which was more setup for brunch than lunch. I was joined by a nice couple from Toronto who I had run into the day before in Teotihuacan.
I did not spend the same kind of time in the upstairs of the museum which is the history of Mexico after the conquest. Soon I was walking back to find the metro, exploring the area south of the Zocolo and then packing up and heading to the airport.
I am trying to get better about starting up conversations so I asked the cab driver what one particular building was. It took us a few minutes and a couple of charades to sort out the vocabulary that the building was a prison. But by then we were in conversation.
I got to the airport early because I had no idea how complex or simple the flight to Oaxaca and security would be. As it turned out it was all simple and quick. Because of timing I ate at the airport, but behind the McDonalds, Subway and Burger King was a taco place that served great tacos al pastor. I helped a doctor from the states figure out what to order and how to get it to go (“para llevar”).
At Oaxaca I took a collective taxi to my hostel. A taxi collectivo was about 40 pesos which is one third the cost of a private taxi and also provided a conversation with an interesting Indian (asia) couple from Detroit who taught me a bit about Indian history and cuisine. After they were dropped off I talked with an older American couple who were coming back for their 10th trip to Oaxaca. As I was the last person in the cab I switched to Spanish and asked the cab driver about the guitar he had in the front seat. He had only been playing for 4 months and was not in a group yet. That led to talking about me playing guitar for church, what church I went to and the cab driver singing me a lovely song from the catholic church.
When I got to the Hostel del Mercado I did not have the cash to pay for 5 days and they don’t except credit cards so I headed out into the evening to find a bank. I normally have a wonderful sense of direction so I headed out without a map, guidebook, address for the hostel or even the knowledge of which way was North. I found the bank but then could not find the hostel again until I asked directions. Overconfident?